These athletes, gamers, entrepreneurs and developers are reshaping the sports and gaming industries across Europe.
For more, dreams can take a lifetime to come true. This is not the case with the Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe. The Frenchman became one of the most decorated football players in the world at just 23, winning his second Ligue 1 Player of the Year award in 2021 after leading the league in goals scored for a third consecutive season . This has resulted in huge success off the pitch, as Forbes estimates that Mbappé, the world’s fourth highest-paid soccer player, earns $15 million in endorsements a year, which includes coverage of EA Sports’ “FIFA 21” game. Last year he also released My name is Kyliana graphic novel aimed at inspiring children to pursue their dreams.
He is not the only one. Mbappé leads an exceptional group of winners on Forbes2022 30 Under 30 Europe list in the Sports & Games category, highlighting the athletes, gamers, entrepreneurs and developers who are shaping the future of their industries. In the seventh edition of the Europe list, Forbes relied on a panel of judges made up of some of the most influential people in sports and gaming: Jonathan Barnettexecutive chairman of ICM Stellar Sports and one of football’s most powerful players; Garbiñe Muguruzaformer WTA No. 1, one of the most marketable female athletes on the planet and 2016 roster alumnus; Jay Ann Lopez, founder of Black Girl Gamers and advocate for diversity in gaming; and Eefje “Sjokz” Depoorterehost of the League of Legends European Championship, one of the most recognizable faces in European esports and an alumnus of the roster in 2016 as well.
Emma Raducanu, 19, claims the title of youngest winner in the Sports & Games category this year. When she won the US Open in September, she became the first Open Era qualifier to win a Grand Slam title and did so in dominant fashion: Raducanu won ten matches without dropping a set. Now Britain’s top-ranked tennis player, Raducanu has endorsement deals with brands including Nike, Dior and British Airways, among others. Joining her from the tennis ranks is a 20-year phenomenon Iga Świątek. In April, she became the first Polish tennis player to be ranked world No. 1 and is the youngest to do so since 2010. She won the 2020 French Open and has already won three consecutive tournaments in 2021. from the field, Świątek is a mental health advocate, speaking openly about her own struggles and donating to organizations in Poland.
On the circuit, the 24-year-old Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is igniting competition in Formula 1. He currently leads the F1 drivers’ standings by 26 points, ahead of former champions Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, and would earn a salary of $12 million from Ferrari. Bella Collins, 29, who is a business strategist for a daytime recycled materials packaging company, set a world record in July 2021 as his team of four became the fastest to row from California to Hawaii in 35 days. It comes seven years after becoming a member of the fastest women’s team to row across the Atlantic Ocean. Visually impaired cross-country skier and biathlete Dmytro Suiarko performed a daring performance at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games while representing Ukraine. A day before winning bronze in a cross-country event, one of four medals the 25-year-old has won at the Games, Suiarko revealed his home in Ukraine had been bombed.
Meanwhile, in the game world, Michaela Lintrup continues to face new challenges. After winning several tournaments as a professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player, she joined the first all-female G2 Esports team in Valorant. Renowned juggler Luca Pferdmenges, who is months away from turning 21, broke four Guinness World Records last year, including becoming the first person to juggle 16 balls with a duet partner. In addition to leading the World Juggling Federation in Germany, he has taught children to juggle in Afghanistan and Uganda. Ten years ago, at the age of 16, Lee McNeil founded Tebex which allows the monetization of game servers. It has helped creators earn over half a billion US dollars worldwide and was acquired by Overwolf.com for $29 million earlier this year.
Other highlights of the 2022 roster include Laurent Okolie29, the 18-0-0 WBO Cruiserweight champion who five years ago flipped burgers at McDonald’s; Arnau Vidal23, who co-founded esports organization Team Heretics in 2016 with Jorge Orejudo Gonzalez22, and Antonio Catena Poderoso, 29, and turned it into a $3.5 million business with over 110 million social media followers across all members and ambassadors; and Georgina Felcethe 28-year-old co-founder and COO of Talewind, a development studio working within the Roblox metaverse which has raised $4.2 million since its inception less than a year ago.
Members of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe Sports & Games list was selected from a wide range of nominees cultivated from a variety of sources, including an online public nomination form, alumni under 30, sports industry contacts and internal research. Our panel of judges, as mentioned above, consisted of: Jonathan Barnett, Garbiñe Muguruza, Jay-Ann Lopez and Eefje Depoortere.
This year’s list was edited by Justin Birnbaum and Matt Craig.
For our full list of sports and games click here, and for full coverage of 30 under 30 in Europe click here.
OVER 30 UNDER 30 EUROPE 2022
Meet him Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Class 2022